Friday, September 10, 2010

The Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God

Hello everyone, I'm sorry this post is so late. I've had a rough week. Anyway, I'm back on track now and with any luck I should have my next post about The God Delusion up later today.

In my original post about the Kingdom of God, I talked about five different ways of thinking about the subject. So far I have talked about how the Kingdom of God relates to politics, religion, society and morality. Today I'm going to talk about the role of the Holy Spirit. I'd also like to tie these ideas together.

Let me begin by quickly recapping what we've discussed so far.

In the sphere of politics, Jesus taught us to change the world through love and service, rather than through force. In the area of religion, we see that Jesus' teachings allowed his followers to enjoy fellowship outside their traditional religious divides. In the area of society, Jesus gave us a vision of radical social and economic equality. Finally, in the area of morality, Jesus taught about the centrality and importance of forgiveness and reconciliation.

If I were to choose one word to summarize everything that we've gone over so far, it would be impractical. It is impractical to try to govern people through love and service. It is impractical to expect deeply religious people to embrace people from other religions. It is impractical to ask people to give away their possessions to feed the poor. It is impractical to set up a moral system that insists that even the most wretchedly immoral people should be forgiven.

So far all we have is a collection of high ideals and noble ambitions. We have a beautiful vision, but we have no way to turn that vision into a reality.

This is where the Holy Spirit enters the picture. The Holy Spirit is God's presence with us and around us, helping us to make God's Kingdom a reality.

Without the Holy Spirit, what you have is a Kingdom without a King. There is no source of power; no punishment or threat of coercion; no way to force people to do what they should. This is because God's Kingdom is not built using traditional means. Instead it is the power of the Holy Spirit which forms the Kingdom of God. A power that loves us, guides us, and shows us the way, instead of using force to make us act against our will.

It is the power of the Spirit that inspires people to love and serve, rather than ruling through fear. It is the Holy Spirit that convinces us of the truth of Jesus' death and resurrection, as well as showing us what that means in our lives. It is the Holy Spirit that inspires us to give generously, allowing us to build a more just society. Finally, it is the Holy Spirit that transforms us so that we follow the moral example and teachings of Jesus.

This is the crucial work of the Holy Spirit. It prepares and enables us to live in God's Kingdom and to make God's Kingdom a reality here on earth.

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